For example, let’s say you have a $2,000 balance on a card charging 18 percent interest and requiring a minimum payment of two percent of that balance.  If you make the declining minimum payment each month, it’ll take you a whopping 289 months (24 years!) to get out of debt and you’ll pay nearly $4,400 in interest.  But if you fix your payment on this month’s minimum of $40, you’ll be out of debt in 94 months and you’ll pay about $1,700 in interest.

So, take note of this month’s minimum and make sure you pay at least that much each month.

Accelerate Your Payments

Of course, you’ll get out of debt even faster if you pay more than the fixed minimum each month.  In our $2,000 balance example, if you pay $60 each month, it’ll take you 47 months to get out of debt and you’ll pay about $800 in interest.

Use the Accelerated Debt Payoff Calculatorto see how much faster you’ll be out of debt by paying various extra amounts each month.  That should motivate you to do what you can to free up money from other spending categories to put toward your debts.

Stay the Course

We live in a quick-fix culture, but getting out of debt usually takes some time.  When I was slogging my way through the four and a half years it took to pay off $20,000 of debt, it helped when I began to see the bigger picture.

Part of that bigger picture had to do with my faith.  I saw that the discouragement I sometimes felt drew me closer to God.

Another part had to do with helping others.  Very early in my journey out of debt, I began doing volunteer work with a financial ministry called Good $ense.  I found it deeply satisfying to come alongside others who had debt to encourage them and show them some practical steps they could take to get out of debt.

Rest assured, there’s a bigger purpose for your debt.  As you discover that bigger purpose, it’ll help you stay motivated to do what it takes to get out of debt.

Other posts in this series on the 11 principles that lead to simple, meaningful success:

Matt Bell is the author of three personal finance books published by NavPress, leads workshops at churches and universities around the country, and serves as Associate Editor at Sound Mind Investing, America’s best-selling investment newsletter written from a biblical perspective. To learn more and for a free subscription to the Sound Mind Investing blog, go to

Publication date: June 20, 2012